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Can Pregnant Women Drink Wine?

Whether it’s okay to have a glass of wine while pregnant remains a hot debate.

While some advocate for this, stating that there is a significantly lower alcohol content in wine than other alcoholic beverages, other experts all agree that there is not a safe amount of alcohol you can drink when pregnant.

Instead, pregnant women should abstain from alcohol for the duration of their pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Pregnancy Association, and other experts. 

Occasional Drinking While Pregnant Can Harm The Fetus

The primary concern regarding drinking while pregnant is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. While most people assume that it takes quite a bit of drinking to cause Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, experts are unable to determine how much alcohol that is. 

What Is Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the direct result of drinking while pregnant, hence the name. Alcohol passes through the bloodstream to the unborn baby, causing significant problems in their grown and development.

These delays and problems often continue throughout adulthood. Common problems that are associated with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome include, but are not limited to: 

  • Vision problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Heart problems
  • Kidney problems
  • Bone problems
  • Neurological conditions
  • Developmental delays
  • Smaller than average head circumference

Many of these problems will continue to be seen throughout childhood and adulthood. While there are treatments available to manage the symptoms, there is no cure. 

No One Knows How Much Wine Is Too Much

red wine

A common argument for drinking wine during pregnancy is that one or two glasses won’t hurt. If a woman drinks a few glasses of wine before finding out she’s pregnant, most doctors claim that it’s nothing to worry about.

This is why there is so much confusion regarding the topic. If doctors claim that pregnant women shouldn’t worry about those few glasses of wine, why is that any different than drinking a few glasses of wine later when knowing that you’re pregnant?

The answer is that pregnant women cannot undrink those glasses of wine. If there is going to be damage, it’s already done.

However, because it’s such a small amount of alcohol, the chance of birth defects due to the alcohol remains small.

Please note that I said small, not non-existent. A glass or two of wine can result in delays later in life, but it can also not have a single impact on the developing fetus. That’s why it’s so important to avoid alcohol. Every glass is like rolling a dice. 

Drinking Can Result In Problems Aside From FAS

While Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is the most common disorder associated with drinking while pregnant, that’s not the only problem that you can face.

Drinking during the first trimester can result in a miscarriage. It can also cause a low birth weight. Other common problems that are associated with drinking while pregnant include: 

  • Lower IQ
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delays
  • Low birth weight
  • Cognitive delays
  • Facial features associated with FAS

While your little one might not have full-blown Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, they could still have one or more problems due to drinking alcohol while pregnant.

For example, they might have delays that aren’t noticed until they are in school. They could have a low birth weight but have no other symptoms of FAS or other reactions to you drinking alcohol. 

Binge Drinking Is Known To Cause Cognitive Problems

Binge drinking is defined as any pattern of drinking that results in a person’s blood alcohol content being elevated to above .08. On average, this takes about four drinks for a woman. 

According to this study, children that were born to mothers that were binge drinking during pregnancy were more likely to have children with cognition problems. This can affect children throughout their life just as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does. 

A Moderate Amount Of Alcohol Can Result In Behavioral Problems

That wasn’t the only study that was done regarding drinking and pregnancy. Further studies were completed on mothers that only drank a smaller or moderate amount of alcohol while they were pregnant.

While this did not cause severe cognitive delays or problems, it was noted that children were at a greatly increased risk of behavioral problems, especially while under the age of five. 

Conflicting Research

There are quite a few studies on drinking a glass of wine while pregnant. While it’s recommended that women avoid alcohol consumption for the entirety of their pregnancy, there are plenty of studies saying that a glass of wine is okay.

More studies have revealed that children actually have better emotional development when their mothers relax with a glass of wine every day. This is why some midwives and doctors will encourage women to enjoy a glass of wine daily. 

While it’s important to note that these studies do exist, it’s also important to note that there are gaps in the research.

While a child might be emotionally healthy, this does not say anything about whether there are developmental delays or neurological symptoms. It’s also critical to remember that there are also research studies that show that this same small amount of alcohol can cause problems. 

Red Wine Is Not The Exception

I’m not quite sure where or why this myth came to be. However, you need to know that red wine does have alcohol in it. Red wine has an alcohol content of 12-15%.

This is substantially lower than most other alcoholic beverages, such as whiskey, but the alcohol content is still there.

Remember, no one knows how much alcohol it takes to result in Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, cognitive delays, behavioral problems, etc. Because of that, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether, including red wine. 

In Conclusion

Although wine does have a smaller alcohol content than other beverages, you still should not drink it while pregnant. No one knows how much alcohol it takes to cause FAS or other conditions related to drinking alcohol while pregnant, so it’s best to avoid drinking any alcohol. 

Medical Disclaimer. All content and media on the MomInformed Website is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice.